Eden Montang’s family remembers daughter and sister as strong and tender

‘She would sacrifice her own wellbeing to stand alongside you.’


The Montang family shared their favorite picture of Eden.

Mia Montang said it was common for her to get off of work with voicemails on her phone from her daughter, Eden. She said the voicemails would range from whispers to yells to singing, but no matter their volume or contents, they would always be filled with love.

“She would call, and then she would leave these just random messages of singing or laughter or just, she’d be like whispering ‘I love you,’” Mia said. She said Eden would start with a whisper, but by the end of the message, she would be yelling “I love you.”

According to Eden’s family, it was a common occurrence to see Eden singing and laughing. In fact, her mother said Eden’s infectious laugh was what she was known for.

“She didn’t just laugh. It was like a full belly down to her toes, and sometimes she laughed so hard you couldn’t even really understand her because she tried to talk while she laughed,” Mia said. “Her smile just radiated, and it was very infectious as well.”

Eden Montang, a student at Iowa State, was shot and killed on June 2 by her ex-boyfriend in the parking lot of Cornerstone Church in Ames. Eden and the shooter were both in the National Guard. Eden’s friend, Vivian Flores, who also attended Iowa State, was also killed before the shooter turned the gun on himself. The shooter was not an Iowa State student.

June 2 was the kickoff of Summer Salt, the summer version of The Salt Company, an on-campus ministry that gathers every Thursday night during the academic year. According to Eden’s family, Eden was active in and passionate about The Salt Company.

“You know, [when] we’re talking about how she kind of impacted Iowa State or kind of what she stood for, the first thing that stood out was Salt Company,” said Elyse Montang, Eden’s sister.

Eden’s family shared how she was an active member in a connection group, a small group that would meet weekly through The Salt Company and how she would have been a connection group leader herself this school year.

“She felt a real acceptance and inclusion in that group,” Mia said. “She didn’t feel judged. She felt like it was a real safe place to be able to share her struggles and success things that she experienced as well.”

Eden’s family also talked about the effect Eden had on the Iowa State campus. According to them, while Eden was a student, she also tutored athletes in American Sign Language, gave massages to the Iowa State football team through Massage Heights and was asked to be a teacher’s assistant while she was still in high school.

Even though Eden was busy with school, work, The Salt Company and more, the Montangs said she always prioritized time with her friends and family. Elyse described the Montang family as extremely close-knit. Terry, Eden’s father, described her as a badger when it came to his daughter’s friends and family, saying she would fight to the death for them.

“She was very supportive, and would sacrifice her own well-being, her own responsibilities to stand alongside you if you were in need or in trouble, or just you needed someone to talk to,” Mia said.

Elyse described Eden as her best friend.

Besides being an engaged friend and family member, Mia said the word “spontaneity” comes to mind when she thinks of Eden. Mia said it was not a surprise to get a call from Eden at 10 p.m. asking to go for a walk down a gravel road or to go get ice cream together.

Terry said he would use the word “tender” to describe his daughter, telling of how Eden would use physical touch as a way to feel close to friends and family.

“There wasn’t a time that we would go somewhere in a car together that if I didn’t reach over and take her hand, she’d reach over and take mine,” Terry said. “She would just come up and just kind of melt into my chest and want a hug, and so I’d stand there and just hug her and hold her.”

While physical touch was important to Eden, Mia noted that it wasn’t the only way she expressed her love for others. Mia discussed the five different love languages, saying she did not believe Eden had just one. According to her, Eden enjoyed quality time and appreciated acts of service as well.

“She was juggling college full time, [and] she was in the National Guard. She was working at Massage Heights. She was working for our family business,” Mia said. “And so she was tired when she got home. So if I could have gone up and you know, wash her dishes for her or started some laundry, she appreciated that.”

Terry said his daughter was also committed. He said, most of all, she was committed to her walk with the Lord.

“As a matter of fact, she had reached that point in her life that she understood that the Lord came first. Everything else after that, and she didn’t talk it, she walked it,” Terry said.

It was this commitment to God, Mia and Terry said, that ultimately caused Eden’s death. According to them, Eden knew she could not continue the relationship and needed to pursue her walk with the Lord instead.

“He was not her person. He was not walking a godly path,” Mia said. “And so she knew that she needed to take the next step and do what God was calling her to do, which was back up and pursue Him, pursue the Lord instead.”

Eden took the steps to distance herself from the shooter before he showed up and confronted her on June 2.

Yet, the Montangs said Eden continued to pray for her ex-boyfriend. In fact, Terry said one of the last entries in Eden’s journal was a prayer for him.

“She was praying that he would just know that, that they weren’t right for each other, but he would continue to go on with his life, and [she] was praying for the best for him.”